Les Demoiselles d’Avignong: Dos and Un-dos in Artistic Experimentation


carolina verd señoritas avignon

|read in Spanish|

Antonio López answers to Boadella: “Picasso defends himself, but shits are not bad.”

Already over a century ago, Picasso spent almost a year stuck in experimentations with alternatives for what, until then, had been considered rules to make a painting. He got involved with an unknown problem that led him to get rid of stereotypes and modalities about the course of action (by painting, by pursuing topics in a painting, etc.).

carolina verd picasso avignon

Experimentation and Breaking Stereotypes

This work’s process is one of the most interesting experimentations regarding the action of painting by breaking the course, plus it’s one of the best documented ones through the artist’s notes. It’s a known fact how this adventure started: from an irrelevant note of the figures in the interior of a room. Likewise, the notes that accompanied this journey (eighteen notebooks) are also known, and through these documents we can learn about the sequence of temptations the artist experimented; notebook attempts in which Picasso transformed the entire content from a first version that worked as a trigger.     

It was a process of continued metamorphosis, always open to the amazement and focused in letting go the leashes of any conventionalism.

What Picasso did in general terms of production was a path of pure artistic search that’s far away from being “industrial”, as it’s commonly considered. In fact, what it’s being called notes, sketches, or attempts were for Picasso an erratic preamble for the painting that lasted much longer than a year, time in which he already proceed to execute the first strokes. The artist knew nothing during that process of what would later be a master piece.

picasso boadella

Fighting with the Painting

Picasso started the painting without having the slight clue of how it would end and with a starting group of more figures. In the first scene, inside a room with curtains and a small table (with fruits and a wine jar), in an ordinary perspective of interior, two masculine figures (the philosopher and the sailor) appeared and they would later, in the process, disappear, most likely because they were irrelevant in the painting-confinement.

The feminine figures took over the situation and owned little by little the painting by coming all forward and appearing in the same forefront. The painting’s occupation is total, so total that there’s no waste; so total that everything smashes against that forefront, projecting its entire volume in flat decomposed fragments (precursors of Cubism). Even the small table and all its content are being represented in the vertical plane of the exterior superficial limit of the painting instead of in the horizontal one. And this is how the painting’s plane is saturated with tension. The mask of the woman’s figure bending down at the right of the painting is the second-to-last transgression of the laws of visual convention (head turned towards), done posthumous, deliberated, and overlapped.

What came into existence between 1906 and 1907 in Paris, of course, is unrepeatable, as any other event; it was simply favored by the circumstances.

A New Paradigm in the Field of Painting

Picasso was the discoverer of a new paradigm in the field of painting. The Oxford Dictionary defines paradigm as “a pattern or model; a world view underlying the theories and methodology of a particular (…) subject.” There’s no doubt that what Picasso represented in the painting Les Demoisells d’Avignon provides the pattern and model to solve problems and to move on in knowledge of painting and arts (understanding “knowledge” as a way to open the sensitivity and the mind to a new world view and to ways of representing reality). Such thing wouldn’t have been possible without experimentation and without, in that process, producing a good number of “shits”, word used by Boadella to describe “three quarters of Picasso’s work”. Another thing is for the market, always greedy, to value those notes derived from an experimentation as pieces of art themselves.

4 carolina verd picasso avignon

Photography: Óscar Rivilla

Conceptual design: Carolina Verd


Black-silk top by Maje

Courtesy of Finally:

Black trousers by Antonio García Studio

Black shoes by Pura López


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